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Poster: DeadATL Date: Jun 20, 2011 3:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Two drummers

What did two drummers contribute to the Dead's sound? Put another way, without one (Mickey just for argument's sake), would they have been a noticeably different band?

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Jun 21, 2011 12:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

As others have pointed out, I feel the whole two drummer thing needs to be split into pre- and post-hiatus. Pre-hiatus two drummer Dead was great to my ears; songs like The Eleven and St. Stephen just wouldn't be the same, maybe not even possible, without two drummers. The rhythms and counter-rhythms of Phil and the drummers are part of the driving entity which makes the early sound so primal and forceful.






This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-06-21 07:10:35

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Jun 20, 2011 4:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Yes. And many think they were better just with Billy K.

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Poster: adks12020 Date: Jun 21, 2011 5:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Without a doubt they were a different band with one drummer. They were definitely much more agile and jazzy. The two drummer set up gave them some real punch in some of the heavier, more rock oriented stuff but I tend to prefer the one drummer era. It seems like they were just more exploratory and they shifted gears (tempo, time signature, key) much more often. Plus, as other have said, there was more space in the music for everyone with only 1 drummer. Sometimes things got muddy with two drummers.

Don't get me wrong I love 1976-77 and that was two drummers throughout but if I had to choose I would go with 72-75 the majority of the time.

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Poster: DeadRed1971 Date: Jun 20, 2011 6:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Considering I prefer 1971-74's drum sound, I'd say Mickey leaves me totally unimpressed.

He did have that toy cannon tho...

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 21, 2011 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

OK, I'm gonna try to synthesize here, since there are lots of good thoughts, and then sort of see where that leads.

CC mentioned StSt and the Eleven as maybe not even being possible without two drummers. These are complex songs that benefit from rehearsing, right? So, can I then carry that thought into the idea that two drummers worked well for them when they were taking the time to be exploratory and rehearse and expend a lot of effort to work out complex stuff, but they couldn't or didn't access those potential benefits in the same way later?

When they didn't use two drummers for compositional complexity, it seems the consensus is that the two drummers added power for larger halls and increased the oomph in rock numbers. (Though it seems they could have just turned it up to 11.) In fact, I gather they tended to play in tandem, which is pretty constraining. (Did they really? I mean, Jerry didn't like it when Keith echoed him. But it was OK for two drummers to go lockstep? Interesting.)

In addition, Mickey's exploratory interests added some "fill" in performance and perhaps some less visible/hearable energy and inspiration from the various explorations and projects he had going.

But ....... that's hardly an argument for two drummers, is it?

I'm kinda thinking that it was more a matter of basic GD laissez faire than a perceived need for two drummers involved in the rebirth of the two-drummer thing. Mickey showed up and started doing work with them again. So then he just stayed post-hiatus. Almost the way that Bob got fired but kept coming around and so (fortunately, in Bob's case) ... there he stayed.




This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-06-21 14:27:52

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Jun 22, 2011 10:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

well if you didnt know.... The dead DID play with only one drummer for years. (71-74). Check it out for yourself. I think it made a world of difference. maybe not a world, but maybe at least like a state hah

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Poster: JihadOMuffin Date: Jun 22, 2011 3:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

There is absolutely no doubt, that all though I love the 71-74 one drummer era, that two drummers add a lot in terms of intensity and drive to many songs. For example listen closely to 6/22/1973 and its amazing stuff but Billy doesn't really drive the music. Now listen to a standard Jack Straw, Samson, Morning Dew in the Eighties and notice how important the drumming intensity is to the build up of these songs, and how powerful of a sound the Dead have during the two drummer eras.

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Poster: reviewr Date: Jun 20, 2011 7:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

I think two drummers is super important to the Dead sound. Bill is the guy though. Compare the Hartbeats to '72 - '74 GD, and it seems Bill needs to be in the band. He may be the best rock drummer ever (don't tell me about Bohnam, Ringo, etc. - I know). You just can't have GD without Bill.. or Bob, or Phil, and of course Jerry. It is a freak of nature that they could all come together at the same time/space.

The years with only Bill is my favorite period, but the two drummer sound greatly contibutes to the high-energy sound of '68 - '70. I love when they are slightly out of sync (see 4/27/69).

It's hard to imagine the '80s without Drums/Space. Hart added so much when the rest of the guys seemed to be running out of ideas.

I have to say... I think the Allman Bros do the two drummer thing best.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Jun 21, 2011 10:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers...one doggone tricky subject

I always like this topic.

In the very beginning, the two seemed to really work well together having been there together from the get-go. The sounds intermingled and complimented on another. I would compare it to raising two puppies together; they may have different personalities, but they meshed and formed a true bond (OK, that may be a stretch, but I love puppies). When Mickey was seperated, it left Billy alone to develop his own sound and interaction with the band. Resulted in some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. But like putting the same dogs back together after a few years apart, when Mickey was put back in the same cage with Billy it was quite natural to have some compatability issues. It couldn't be expected they'd immediately pick up where they left off with the same seamless meshing you had before. Mickey with his heavy percussive style seemed to ovewhelm Billy's more precise stuff. To me it was as if Billy had to adapt more to Mickey than the other way around. A great loss in my eyes. The drum sound became more muddied and took on a more supportive role than what it was with just Billy, who was out front and could at times even seem to carry the band on his own.

IMHO, of course.

This post was modified by SomeDarkHollow on 2011-06-21 17:24:05

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Jun 21, 2011 11:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers...and that muffled sound

Couldn't agree more, and your analogy is spot on.

My pet peeve after Mickey rejoins - so many shows throughout the 80s, the drums sound like they're in a padded room. Instead of being a driving rhythmic force, they sound more like background. I'm spoiled by Billy's clean sound circa 71-74. As for 76 through 78, the drums at least are prominent, even if less jazzy, and more heavy. Since I didn't attend shows post 79, the question is, did it sound better at the show? A lot of the SBDs (and auds for that matter) don't do them justice.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 21, 2011 6:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers...and that muffled sound

Very prominent on 11/24/79. I was just listening to that again, and in light of this conversation was struck by the power and intensity of the two drums. Maybe that's an example of a SBD capturing what they could sound like "non-muffled."

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Jun 21, 2011 11:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers...and that muffled sound

As most of the later era shows were at larger arenas where I dont care how many drummers you have, it's gonna sound muddied. A good SBD tape might give you some seperation, but live it was hard to tell them apart except for Drums. That might be another reason for the regular insertion of this section: the one chance for each drummer to show off his distinct skill set.

As I've said before, I don't want to take away from Mickey's talent at all. I seek him as more of a Picasso, painting scenes of multi-colored forms and shapes, somehow melding them to create a singular piece. Billy, on the other hand, I see more as a Rembrandt; creating works of incredible detail and form that while precise and controlled, still contain immense feeling and emotion.

This post was modified by SomeDarkHollow on 2011-06-21 18:28:25

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Poster: BVD Date: Jun 21, 2011 12:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers...and that muffled sound

Post hiatus for the most part Mickey just got in the way. Billy's drumming always reminded me of Mitch Mitchell...quick,clean and precise. My two cents fwiw

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Jun 21, 2011 6:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

The two drummer thing worked GREAT during the primal era, but I think once they went to one drummer they should have probably stayed with that configuration. Although the later-day two-drummer version of the GD was capable of greatness and could occasionally sound more "powerful" (for lack of a better word), their improving was not as interesting overall on the big second set jamming tunes like "Eyes" and "PITB". For the first set/shorter tunes, I don't think it mattered as much ("Big River" is "Big River", whether you've got one drummer or ten).

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Poster: Aceserve Date: Sep 25, 2015 2:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Hilarious comment by Bob Weir in Vanity Fair interview on the two drummers.
For many years the Grateful Dead had two drummers—Bill Kreutzmann throughout and Mickey Hart most of the time. Nobody else has two drummers. Why did you need two drummers?

That can be a blessing and a curse. One time after a particularly difficult gig, Jerry told those guys it was like playing with a popcorn machine. Because they got busy and were going in different directions and stuff, and there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to it.
http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/04/bob-weir-grateful-dead

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Jun 20, 2011 4:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Hart provided melodic percussion and the unorthodox instrument collection...Kreutzman handled the rudimentary stuff with the jazzy fills, etc. Together they could blast away on many tunes, such as not fade away, but I do like the sparser sound of the one drummer era in the early seventies, 2 drummers were necessary in the 80s and 90s when they became more standardized...

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 20, 2011 6:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

But couldn't two drummers have contributed to their becoming more standardized? We know they couldn't "turn on a dime" (something many people have said, including Phil). Doesn't that mean less unexpected everything ... tempo, changes within jams, song choices?

I've gotten better at telling them apart, but I agree it's hard to separate them when they're playing together. Yeah, Bill's the jazzy one (and is super impressive) and Mickey's adding the tribal percussive sounds (and I love tribal world music-y stuff), but in terms of who's driving things rhythmically ... well, they're both thumping away. Hard to say. (For me, anyway.) And I'm not honestly sure "both thumping away" is somehow an improvement over the way things worked in the one-drummer era.

So, yeah, I've wondered that same thing: Why two drummers? What did the band, or what do other listeners, perceive was added by two over one? Particularly post-hiatus?

Specific examples would be great! Like, "listen to this, they couldn't have done this without Mickey" (outside the drumz, that is) or "listen to the way they interact and how it adds to X song."

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Jun 20, 2011 6:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Fire and Shakedown definitely benefitted from 2 drummers, eyes was hurt by it, in fact the more drums the worse eyes got (refer to 2-11-86)

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 20, 2011 9:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Well, I guess they wouldn't have had Fire at all without Mickey. I gather some folks feel its plodding, but I think it's pretty special. And I'll listen to Shakedown and see what I can hear of how the combo is working.

I wonder, though, if having two drummers also meant that BK's focus switched to some extent from interacting with Jerry and Phil in particular to focusing fairly heavily on working with Mickey. And Phil switched sides with Jerry in '82 cuz he said he couldn't hear BK well ... isn't that right? Which I guess indicates something about possibilities for interaction getting a bit muddied by two drummers.

So the thing is, to what extent was the sound enhanced by two drummers -- particularly post-hiatus -- that it could arguably make up for the loss of flexibility? (What Bob, I think, has described as turning an ocean liner or aircraft carrier or something.) Is there an argument to be made for that? Whether folks agree or not, there might be a good argument for that viewpoint, and I'd be curious to hear it. I'm more familiar with the pro-BK-only contentions.

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Poster: N Hoey Date: Jun 20, 2011 10:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

The two drummer thing worked well the first time around. I think it has to do with the youthful energy and the freshness they had then, the band's unity and hungry ambition and also the lean snappy drum sounds.

BK did an excellent job in the interim. A great stylist with that same natural snappy edge to the drum sound.

With the return, things were different. Thick fat modern drum sound, no snappy snares anymore. Often plodding and mechanical tempos. Drums/space was not an artistic thing as much as a band politics thing. The drummers wanted a showcase moment too. Jerry was more than happy to oblige since he could then go and do a few lines.

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Poster: chris in long beach Date: Jun 20, 2011 4:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

I'm going to be one of those assholes that responds w/o having an answer, sorry :)

I guess I'm responding because, well, except for some of the early stuff I can't even hear two drummers (except if I listen really hard and can hear two different snare sounds, etc).

Are most of you able to hear two drummers?

I much prefer the "sound" of one drummer. Because, hey, even if most of the time I can't hear two drummers, two drum sets still take up a lot of sonic space. The other instruments get a lot more breathing room with one drummer.

Plus, with one drummer, there probably wouldn't have been a drums/space segment :)

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Poster: utopian Date: Jun 22, 2011 11:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Two drummers is such a progression from the Country Folk jazz based era of 70-74. They were trying to redefine their sound.... again. While i can enjoy the cream of 73-74 (especially tidh 73) the sound is dated and has too much country twang for my liking. It was not a sustainable timeless sound, like they were trying to tap into. Micky was brought back to keep the sound on a foreward cohesive track, on the one (for any funk fans.) The post hiatus sound was much more linear and danceable, something 73-74 was not. Gotta keep the kids dancing.

Some say, 'two drummers is too much.'

I say, the dead started to hit their stride in 77

......
Understandably some can not hear or distinguish the sound. A good pair of headphones help or balanced speaker placement at a moderate + volume.

here are some highlights that can help you distinguish the two drummer sound.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1977-05-05.sbd.cantor.7725.shnf
peggy-o

http://www.archive.org/details/gd83-09-24.neumann.wiley.9200.sbeok.shnf
Uncle Johns Band

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1989-08-19.mtx.hansokolow.96303.sbeok.flac16
I know you rider

peace

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Poster: dwh9 Date: Apr 17, 2016 3:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

The grateful dead without 2 drummers is not the Grateful Dead. I know that was their original lineup. I also know they had a cocaine cowboy era between 1971 and 1974. And it sounded good. But try this- Put on head phones and listen to the 'other one'. When Bob Weir starts singing "Spanish Lady Comes ...." you sometimes hear a cowbell (more cowbell). That's Mickey Hart. Bill the drummer rarely used the cowbell to embellish his playing. His job was to keep the beat consistently and Mickeys added the color. I used to go to see the Grateful Dead just for the 2 drummers and watched the drummers interact. Jerry Garcia once said playing music with two drummers is like galloping locomotives. Its the heaviest thing on earth. They always placed their drums on each side of the stage. In September of 1968 (the 20th) at one of their shows, in the middle of their solos, the middle of the stage separated and ascended with (I think) Allah Rakha drummer extraordinaire playing the tabla. That was the highlight for me of the show. As people now say it was 'sick'. My first time I saw them was in August of '68 at the Fillmore West playing Alligator. ALLIGATOR!! The Grateful Dead, without Mickey Hart with all his complex rhythms, would not have lasted as long as they have. Bill the drummer would not be able to play the Eleven in 11/4 signature. I am glad he returned with the Grateful Dead in 1974. They pushed their drums closer together for a tighter sound and better communication and by joining back with the Grateful Dead he was able to afford his outside projects with the Diga Rhythm Devils and with drummers like Airto. With Mickey Hart the Grateful Dead never sounded muddled. Remove those cauliflowers from your ears. I kid you not.

I am wrong. The musicians who arose on the stage were Shankar Ghosh and Vince Delgado. It would have been cool if it was Allah Rakha.
This post was modified by dwh9 on 2016-04-16 03:54:42

This post was modified by dwh9 on 2016-04-16 04:13:34

This post was modified by dwh9 on 2016-04-17 10:27:14

This post was modified by dwh9 on 2016-04-17 10:31:04

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Poster: adedhed68 Date: Jun 21, 2011 12:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

Billy K by himself allowed for a greater degree of jazzy improvisation, as is evident in versions of Playin and Eyes from 73 and 74. With one drummer, the band was a considerably more.....agile, spry. Mickey brought a heavier, ploddier sound at times. This worked well in the case of say "The Other One", "Truckin", and "Samson". As stated by others, I would agree that "Eyes" suffered tremendously. Also, notice that the band gave up on "Here Comes Sunshine" until 91 or 92.

This post was modified by adedhed68 on 2011-06-21 07:32:01

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Jun 21, 2011 4:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Two drummers

I've gone on record before (both on the forum and in some reviews) to state my preferences re: the drumming as follows:

Joint first, either one drummer Dead (Billy K) or two drummer Dead from the 'Live/Dead' era.

Second (and a long way behind joint first), the two-drummer Dead from when Mickey Hart re-joined onwards.

Apart from the whole craziness of the 'Live/Dead' era; the guitars, Hunter's weird lyrics (compared to say "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" and how weird is that?) and the somewhat non-standard format (compared to the standard 3 minute Tamla-type single), it was the drums in, say, "Lovelight" where the drummers reciprocated each other's play, they played against each other as well as with each other, instead of just duplicating each other's strokes like they did from '77 onwards, that turned me on to the Dead in the first place.

If you're gonna have two drummers just duplicating each other's play, why not three, four or even five drummers? The wage-bill for a start I guess, but other than that?

I dare say Mickey Hart contributed other things to the band (not necessarily while they were playing) and I've got nothing against him personally (heh, I've never even met him!) but I can't help thinking the drumming was a lot more dynamic in the early days or when Billy did it on his own compared to the 'plodding' style employed after he re-joined.

That's my 1/2 dollar's worth anyway ...........